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Full text of "The history and present status of golden trout in Montana"

MONTANA 
STATE 




This "cover'* page added by the Internet Archive for formatting purposes 



2HPS ^3f:37/r 

4 



PLEASE RETURN 



THE HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS 
OF GOLDEN TROUT IN MONTANA 



by 
Patrick E. Marcuson 



April 1984 



STATE DOCUMENTS COLLECTION 

MONTANA STATE LIBRARY; 

1515 E. 6th AVE. 
HELENA, MONTANA 59620 



State of Montana 
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks 
Fisheries Division 
DATE DUE 



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INTRODUCTION 

Golden Trout, native to the Kern River drainage of the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, is a fancy fish that 
captured the hearts of many a man. Two such men. Col. Sherman 
Stevens and his brother, transplanted 13 goldens from Mulkey 
Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Kern River, to 
Cottonwood Creek, California in 1876. The fish were carried in a 
coffee pot across the Divide, a distance of 4 miles, because the 
Stevens brothers were anxious that Cottonwood Creek be well 
stocked for their use near their sawmill site. In 1981, E. H. 
Edwards, a storekeeper at Lone Pine, California, and two friends 
planted some of these Cottonwood Creek fish in Cottonwood lakes, 
and by 1906 the lakes were described as being unusually well 
stocked with goldens (Ellis and Bryant 1920). In 1917, a spawn- 
ing station was established at Cottonwood lakes (Pister 1964) . 
This site became the source of golden trout eggs. From 1928 to 
1938, eggs were shipped to the National Fish Hatchery in Bozeman 
(now the Fish Cultural Development Center). In 1939, an embargo 
on golden trout eggs was imposed by the California Legislature 
(McAfee 1966) . One documented batch of 600 eggs supposedly was 
shipped to Montana in 1907 by the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries 
(Brown 1971) before establishment of the spawning stations at 
Cottonwood lakes. 

Distribution records of the first golden trout delivered to 
Montana are vague and poorly documented. A search of state and 
federal hatchery records, literature correspondence, interviews 
and field examinations of expected golden trout habitats suggest 
the following lineage of the destination of golden trout in 
Montana. 



Table A. Eggs received from Cottonwood lakes, a. 1907-1938 



Year No. Eggs Rearing Station No. & Destination of Fish 

500 - Gallatin area 

9,000 - Gallatin N.F.^ 

21,000 - Glacier N.F. 
9,000 - Gallatin N.F. 
2,000+- Wind River area, 

Wyoming, Cook Lake 
stock 

1930 50,000 Bozeman N.F.H. 25,000 - Scheduled for Mission 

Mt. lakes 
Unkn. - Hidden, Lost Packer 

lakes, Bitterroot N.F. 

1931 50,000 Bozeman N.F.H. Unkn. - Upper & Lower Dutchman 

lakes 



1907^ 


600 


Bozeman 


N.F, 


.H. 


1928 


50,000 


Bozeman 


N.F. 


.H. 


1929 


50,000 


Bozeman 


N.F. 


.H. 



Table A. Eggs received from Cottonwood lakes, a. 1907-1938 
(Cont.) 



Year No. Eggs Rearing Station No. & Destination of Fish 

1932 56,025 Bozeman N.F.H. 5,200 - Hidden lakes #1 & #2 

6,000 - Helena area 
Unkn. - Wind River Area, 
Wyoming 

1935 25,000 Bozeman N.F.H. Unkn. - Unknown 

1938 100,000 Bozeman N.F.H. 16,200 - Gallatin N.F. 

12,000 - Hidden lakes 
8,000 - Golden Trout Lake 
6,000 - Blue Danube 
2,666 - Sears 
2,666 - Emerald, Bitterroot 

N.F. lakes 
2,668 - Lava 

10,000 - Anaconda F.H., Lake 
of the Isle 
3,000 - Sylvan Lake 

12,000 - Lake Pinchot 
5,000 - Jasper Lake 

1939 Egg embargo 

■'■References: McCloud 1943; U. S. Bureau of Fisheries (Boze- 
man National Fish Hatchery records) : correspondence and inter- 
views. 

^Fish designated to the Gallatin National Forest for distri- 
bution were in part responsible for golden trout once occupying 
Ramona, Avalanche, Papoose, Cataract, Falls and Blue Paradise 
lakes. One lot of 6,100 eggs was incubated in West Fork of 
Beaver Creek. 



Tabl 



e B. Eggs received from Surprise Lake, Wyoming - 1957, 1958, 
1963 and 1977-^ 



Year No. Eggs Rearing Station No. & Destination of Fish 

1957 34,887 Big Timber 2,000 - Fish, Wildlife & Parks 

Hdq. Pond at Bozeman 
20 - Great Falls Fair - 
1958 

- 2 - 



% 



Table B. Eggs received from Surprise Lake, Wyoming - 1957, 1958, 
1963 and 1977-'- (Cont.) 



Year No. Eggs Rearing Station No. & Destination of Fish 

400 - Creston N.F.H. 
Unkn. - Hamilton F.H. 

1958^ 62,000 Pig Timber 2,560 - Sawtooth Lake - 1959 

1,600 - Hidden Lake #1 - 1959 
1,920 - Hidden Lake #3 - 1959 
1,600 - Hidden Lake #4 - 1959 
1,600 - Hidden Lake #8 - 1959 
10,000 - Kaufman (Falls Creek 
Lake) 
5,000 - West Boulder Lake 
31,000 - Jim lakes 
2,100 - Upper & Lower Sky 

lakes - 1960 
3,069 - Creston N.F.H. ; part 

transferred to Hamilton 
F.H. ; 510 to Herrig and 
1,364 to Imagine lakes 
in 1959 

1963 14,600 Big Timber 13,260 - Island, Crescent and 

Heart lakes 
1977 11,200 Bozeman N.F.H. 2,600 - Duck Lake 

2,600 - Shrimp Lake 

4,500 - Fourmile Basin Creek 

Lake #4 
1,500 - Fourmile Basin Creek 
Lake #5 



State of Montana hatchery records - unpublished; some 



'^Some of the 1958 fish could have been from Hamilton stock; 



hatchery transfers are not listed. 

^Some of the 1958 fish could 
35,055 eggs were received from Daniel, Wyoming on July 4, 1958. 

Table C. Other Montana egg takes, 1953-1983 



Rearing 
Year Source Lake Station No. & Destination of Fish 



1953 Blue Danube Big Timber/ 2-3,000 - Kootenai Lake 
Hamilton 

- 3 - 



Table C. Other Montana egg takes, 1953-1983 (Cont.) 



Year Source Lake 



Rearing 
Station 



No. & Destination of Fish 



1955 Sylvan 



Big Timber 



1956 Sylvan 



Big Timber 



1959 Sylvan Big Timber 
1964 Blue Danube Big Timber 
1972 Sylvan Big Timber 

1980 Sylvan 
1981^ Sylvan 



1982 Sylvan 



1983 Sylvan 



Unkn. - 



Hamilton F.H. 
stock 



(brood 



4,800 


- Cairn Lake 


6,400 


- Medicine Lake 


16,000 


- Snowbank Lake (Fossil) 


4,800 


- Dewey Lake 


1,600 


- Big Park Lake 


6,400 


- Lake at Falls 


10,300 


- Lightning Lake 


1,052 


- Lake of the Winds 


400 


- Creston N.F.H. 


500 


- Rhoda Lake 


1,328 


- Louise Lake (Mary Lou) 


575 


- Rhoda Lake 



- eggs failed 

82 - Fish, Wildlife 6< Parks 
Hdq. pond, Bozeman 



Big Timber 


1,300 


- 


Cave Lake 


Anaconda 


5,600 


- 


Big Butte Lake 




5,530 


- 


Desolation Lake 




3,840 


- 


Little Scat Lake 




3,360 


— 


West Fishtail Creek 
Lake 




2,065 


- 


Rock Tree Lake 




2,065 


- 


Upper Whitney Lake 




1,920 


- 


McKnight Lake 




1,920 


- 


Upper McKnight Lake 




1,920 


- 


Asteroid Lake 




1,440 


- 


Dryad Lake 


Anaconda 


6,500 


_ 


Desolation lakes 




6,500 




West Fishtail Creek 
lakes 


Anaconda 


3,000 


- 


Fourmile Basin Lake #4 




3,000 


- 


Duck Lake 



■'■All fish from 1981 egg take were planted in July 1982 as 4- 
inch fish in lakes in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. 



- 4 - 



Table D. Plants from Hamilton Fish Hatchery, 1960 



Rear ing 
Year Station 



Transfer 
Station 



1960 Hamilton Libby 



1960 Hamilton None 



1960 Hamilton Anaconda 



1960 Hamilton None 



No. & Destination of Fish 



2,030 - Smith Lake Rearing 
Pond 

500 - Sock Lake 
500 - Renshaw Lake 

2,500 - Fourmile Basin Lake #4 
4,480 - Little Lake Creek 
lakes (2) 

Unkn. - Arrowhead Lake 
Unkn. - Duckhead Lake 



Table E. Transfer by unauthorized persons 



Lake Stocked 



Source Lake 



Approximate Year 



Bar rier 



Lake Pinchot 



1939 



Table F. Downstream, dispersement 






Source Lake 



Year Stocked 
in Source Lake 



Jasper 

Lake Pinchot 

Dewey 

Lake at Falls 

Hidden #1 & 2 



1938 
1938 
1955 
1955 
1959 



Recipient Lake£ 



Golden, Hidden 

Flood Creek lakes (6) 

Twin Outlets, Duggan, Big Park 

Rainbow, Rimrock 

Hidden lakes #5, 6 i, 1^ 



■•■This may have been an unauthorized transplant, since no 



evidence of 1959 plants appeared downstream, 



- 5 - 



The earliest dissemination of golden trout from the National 
Fish Hatchery in Bozeman was largely confined to the Gallatin 
National Forest. Much of this early stocking involved CCC and 
Forest crews; records were scarce. Many lakes were unnamed, 
others changed. Some unnamed lakes took on a name after the 
fish, e.g.. Golden Trout and Golden lakes. It was the mid-1950's 
when fisheries employees in Montana resumed stocking golden 
trout. Populations in Sylvan and Surprise lakes supplied the 
eggs. A feeble attempt to establish a brood station at Hamilton 
was short-lived. The majority of the eggs were reared at Big 
Timber and stocked directly into the Beartooth area lakes, or 
were transferred to a hatchery on the west side of the Divide for 
subsequent dispersement. 

The first recorded attempt at securing golden trout eggs was 
in 1953 at Blue Danube Lake in the Hilgards. A crew of Opheim, 
Mitchell, Spindler and Schurr stripped eggs, and subsequently 
2,000-3,000 fish were raised at Big Timber and Hamilton hatch- 
eries. The goldens were requested by a forest ranger for Koot- 
enai Lake near Stevensville (Opheim 1953, pers. comm.). 

In 1955, 1956 and 1959, eggs were collected at Sylvan Lake 
by combinations of the following: Nelson, Keller, Waples, Gaab, 
Taylor, Matthews, Eberle and Domrose. Some eggs collected by 
Higgins in 1964 from Blue Danube failed to develop. A small 
collection of eggs were taken in Sylvan Lake by Marcuson in 1972. 
These eggs were taken incidental to censusing the fishery. The 
small number of survivors (82) were stocked in the pond behind ^ 
the Fish and Game headquarters in Bozeman. In 1980, approxi- 
mately 2,000 eggs were again taken at Sylvan Lake by Peterson and 
Marcuson. Cave Lake in the Crazy Mountains was the recipient of 
1,300 fish from this take. A collection of 488 adult goldens was 
obtained from Sylvan Lake in 1981 by Marcuson and crew. Peterson 
and Sholtz stripped 79,811 eggs from about 50% of the fish. 
These eggs were treated with erythromycin and delivered to 
Yellowstone River Trout Hatchery. They were later shipped to 
Washoe Springs Trout Hatchery in Anaconda. Approximately 30,000 
fish were stocked in Beartooth mountain lakes in 1982 from this 
egg take. 

Golden trout populations, once fairly prevalent in approxi- 
mately 50 lakes in Montana now reside in 14 habitats. The demise 
of golden trout populations were of four causes: 1) inability to 
sustain; 2) winterkill in marginal habitats; 3) hybridization 
with other spring spawners and 4) inability to compete with brook 
trout. 

Rainbow and cutthroat trout plants directly into golden 
trout waters or in lakes upstream soon hybridized and the genetic 
integrity of the pure golden trout was lost. Because of the 
golden trout's elusiveness to observation, hook and line and 
sometimes netting, fish managers or unauthorized transplanters ^ 
assumed barrenness. One objective of this paper is to prevent ^' 
further hybridization by describing the status and whereabouts of 
the existing golden trout populations. 

- 6 - 



METHODS 

Water temperatures were collected with three 30-day record- 
ing thermographs at Sylvan and Lightning lakes during 1973 and 
1975. Surface to bottom water temperatures were measured over 
deep portions of these lakes with a thermistor and probe. 
Instantaneous temperatures v/ere read with a pocket thermometer in 
association with all investigative actions. 

Substrate composition of artificial and natural spawning 
sites was taken with the aid of a 2-pound coffee tin. Grain-size 
analysis followed the procedures of Welch (1948) . A Price-type 
current meter and a staff gauge was employed in the outlets of 
Sylvan and Lightning lakes, and flows were converted to cubic 
feet per second. Redd sites were measured to the nearest inch. 

Fish were collected in nylon 5xl25-foot gill nets (graduated 
mesh 3/4 to 2 inches square) set overnight in each lake. All 
representative samples were photographed and coloration was noted 
and sketched. Lengths, weights, sex, fat content and body condi- 
tion were recorded on each fish. Stomachs were removed, sorted 
to length groups and preserved in formalin. Contents of stomachs 
were sorted, counted and weighed. Only contents anterior to the 
pyloric caece were considered. Food types were cataloged in 
relation to where it was consumed: terrestrial, water column or 
benthic zones. 

Scales and otoliths were removed from each fish for aging. 
Eggs were counted in each morbid female of various size groups. 

Protocol for collection of fish health inspections followed 
the format of the U. S. Department of the Interior, Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Fish Disease Control Center. Attempts were 
made to have at least a 30-fish sample of each feral population 
of golden trout. Samples collected included fecal material in 
10% formalin, fecal smears trypticase soy agar, (TSA) cultures, 
saline preserved kidney/spleen samples and gill arches in 10% 
formalin. Genetic samples involved collecting one eye, a slice 
of kidney and muscle tissue from each fish. Genetic variation 
was determined by Steve Phelps, Population Genetics Laboratory, 
University of Montana, using horizontal starch gel electro- 
phoresis according to method of Utter, Hodgins and Allendorf 
(1974) . 

FINDINGS 

Locations 

As of 1981, the State of Montana had 17 lakes harboring 
golden trout (Table 1) . Because of the close proximity of cer- 
tain waters and interchange of fish between waters as in Light- 
ning and Little Lightning and three Hidden lakes in the Gallatin, 
only 14 real populations existed in 1981. 



- 7 - 



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- 9 - 



Golden trout populations in Montana were found only in 
lakes; no stream populations were found. All waters were acces- 
sible by maintained Forest trails, except Lightning and Cave 
lakes. Distances from trail heads to lake shores ranged from 2 
to 8 miles. 

Stocking Histories 

The existing 14 stocks of golden trout were the result of 
egg shipments to Montana between 1928 and 1938 from collecting 
facilities at Cottonwood lakes, California; Surprise Lake, Wyo- 
ming and transplants from Sylvan Lake (Table 2) . 

Catch Data, 1981 

During August 1981, 19 experimental nets were set in 13 
alpine lakes where golden trout populations were anticipated. 
Golden trout were captured in all but two lakes. Two experi- 
mental nets set in Cave Lake were folded to increase the catch- 
able surface area, but no fish were captured or observed. The 
lack of catch was assumed a result of small yearling fish, inade- 
quate mesh size and small numbers of fish (stocked at 84/acre in 
1980). An overnight gill net set August 8, 1982 captured five 2- 
year-old goldens. 

It was also known to this investigator that brook trout 
coexisted with golden trout in Fourmile Basin Lake #3 near 
Anaconda. An experimental net set overnight in this lake 
captured only brook trout. 

Another experimental net was set in Hidden Lake in the Bear- 
tooth Mountain Range. The last sampling of this water in 1976 
produced equal numbers of Age Class II golden and cutthroat trout 
(Marcuson 1980) . The net set in 1981 captured only cutthroat 
trout. No golden trout were observed and goldens are assumed 
extinct in Hidden Lake. 

Examination of hatchery records at Anaconda revealed golden 
trout were stocked in two of eight lakes in Fourmile Creek Basin 
in 1977. Evidence of these fish appeared in Fourmile Basin Lake 
#4; none were captured or observed in Fourmile Basin Lake #5. 
Records also showed Duck and Shrimp lakes in nearby Twin Creek 
drainage were stocked at the same time. No nets were set in 
these lakes, and again it is assumed that goldens occupied these 
waters in 1981; however, no reproduction was expected (Vashro, 
pers. comm. ) . 

Island Lake in Mission Mountains yielded the largest over- 
night catch of golden trout in a gill net. Numerous fish were 
observed jumping and swimming shoal areas. Individual fish were 
mostly small, less than .25 pounds. The population density 
appeared greater than optimum for available food and space. 
Reproduction was obvious and mortality from angling appears 
insignificant. 



- 10 - 



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- 11 - 



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- 12 - 



Heart Lake immediately downstream from Island Lake yielded 
only one 4-year-old trout. No other fish were observed from 
shore or while snorkeling. Based on the excellent condition of 
this one fish, its size at Age IV and the high level of available 
food, it appeared Heart Lake was at an extreme low-density level. 

Crescent Lake produced an overnight catch of 11 golden 
trout, all very small fish. Others were observed jumping and 
swimming shoal areas. No sexually mature females were captured. 

Sawtooth Lake in the Pioneer Mountain Range produced a well- 
balanced structure of numerous^ well-composed fish. Reproduction 
was evident with juveniles aggregated around redd sites in the 
inlet. Wipperman witnessed a similar structure in 1964. 

Fourmile Basin Lake #4 appeared to have few fish. Two fish 
were observed and two fish were captured. Both fish were Age IV 
and averaged 1 pound. Gillnetting in 1962 produced 21 golden 
trout between 7.3 and 8.6 inches (Marcoux 1973). All fish were 
Age II from a 1960 plant. In 1981 fingerlings were observed in 
the outlet. However, the exit of this stream at the lake created 
a barrier to juvenile recruitment back to the lake. Many juve- 
niles were trapped in small isolated pools. 

Little Lightning Lake always produced numerous small 2 and 
3-year-old fish (Harcuson 1980). The largest fish captured in 
Little Lightning Lake was a 16.3-inch, 1.56-pound female. 

Eleven fish netted in Hidden Lake #2 were of three size 
groups (8.5, 10.8 and 14.6 inches), indicating at least partial 
reproductive success. This shallow lake was sparsely populated 
with golden trout. One fish was observed in the shallow inlet 
stream 150 feet upstream from the lake's confluence. Fish were 
full of Gammarus lactustris and were in good physical condition. 

Numerous small golden trout were observed and captured by 
hook and line in the shallow, pond-like environments of Hidden 
lakes #5, 6 and 7. Gaffney (pers. comm.) reported observing 
numerous, small golden trout in these lakes in 1958. The 1981 
experimental net set in Hidden Lake #5 captured seven golden 
trout, averaging 7.8 inches and 0.17 pounds. These brightly 
colored fish spawn in the small stream between Hidden lakes #5, 6 
and 7; access between lakes was unobstructed. These fish 
appeared totally different in coloration from those fish in 
Hidden Lake #2 upstream. The outflow of Hidden Lake #2 had 350 
feet of gradient with falls and appeared suicidal to fish moving 
downstream. The physical features of the Hidden lakes make for 
three separate ecological entities: lakes #1 and 2; lakes #5, 6 
and 7 and lakes #3, 4 and 8. The latter group had occasional 
golden trout; none were observed in 1981. They were last stocked 
in 1959 with 6-inch fish. 

Golden trout were prevalent in Golden Trout Lake in the 
Gallatin drainage. Numerous small fish were observed. Camping 
sites and shoreline abuse suggested heavy fishing pressure. Eggs 

- 13 - 



were excavated from redds in a small reach of inlet near the lake 
and in a small meadow 120 feet in distance and at an elevation of 
80 feet above Golden Trout Lake. No juveniles were found. In 
spite of the eggs upstream, the inlet appeared to have much too 
much gradient for fish passage. No fish were found in the up- 
stream ponds. Unauthorized transplants may occur occasionally in 
this aiea. The outlet appeared the primary spawning site; juve- 
niles were common in pools and aggregated around the outlet-lake 
margin. 

Of all lakes sampled, Blue Danube appeared to have the 
lowest population density. Only one fish was captured, none were 
observed and two outfitters complained of no fish. Marcoux 
(pers. comm.) surveyed Blue Danube in 1975 and found a good 
population ranging from 6.5 to 18 inches. Previous spawning 
success was restricted to the outlet which when observed in 1981 
provided little flow and a silted substrate. No fish were 
observed downstream or in a meadow lake 1/4 mile down drainage. 

A total of 488 golden trout were collected in 2 1/2 days for 
obtaining 79,811 eggs in early July 1981 at Sylvan Lake. The 
female parents of the eggs averaged 10.5 inches; males were 10.0 
inches. Two gill nets pulled September 1, 1981 produced 40 fish, 
averaging 9.0 inches, .32 pounds. This ]ake consistently pro- 
duced numerous fish, most less than 13 inches in length. 

Appearance and Coloration 

The lack of homogenous coloration, spotting and overall 
appearance of various golden trout populations and even individ- 
ual fish within a population led scientists to classification 
disagreements. From early on, golden trout were classified Sal mo 
iridius (Henshaw 1875), S^ m ykiss aquabonita (Jordan and Henshaw 
1878), ^ whitei (Marcuson 1980) and £^ gilberti (Vore 1928). 
The two latest studies, Schreck and Behnke (1971) and Gold and 
Gall (1980), concur on the present acceptable subspecies S^ 
aquabonita aquabonita. The other subspecies, S^. Su. ailbfixti, 
still has some confusion regarding classonomic integrity. 

Golden trout in Montana all have their roots from Sj. Sj. 
aquabonita in Cottonwood lakes, California; however, two distinct 
appearing types of goldens were apparent. Those fish with a 
lineage via "Surprise Lake," Wyoming stocked between 1960 and 
1977 had an appearance and coloration different from those which 
were direct plants from Cottonwood lakes. The latter group was 
termed "typical" (Table 3). 

The "typical" golden trout described by Evermann (1905) and 
McAfee (1966) had the following coloration and spotting charac- 
teristics : 

1. Colorstjon - Bright, cherry-red belly from throat to 
anal fin; predominately deep olive-green back; metallic, lemon- 
yellow sides; rosy lateral band; one series of 10-12 large, 

- 14 - 



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- 16 - 



t5 



prominent parr marks silvery-gray in color; white tips on anal 
and ventra] fins. 

2. Spetting. - Large spots, few in number, concentrated in 
caudal area, few below lateral line; none or very few on body 
anterior to dorsal fin; dorsa] and caudal fin heavily spotted. 

The "Surprise Lake" golden trout tended to have the follow- 
ing characteristics: 

1. Coloration - Silvery or lighter pigmented; less vivid 
olive-green back; anal fin with less orange coloration; rosy 
lateral band often less vivid than on "typical" type; 10-12 
large, silvery-gray parr marks which do not stand out as much as 
on the "typical"; white tips on anal and ventral fins. 

2. Spotting - Same as on "typical" golden trout except for 
more spotting anterior to dorsal fin. 

3. Body - Usually more robust, less slender than "typical" 
golden trout. 

To complicate further, there were variations in colorations 
of some individual golden trout in specific waters. Similar to 
California habitats (Pister, pers. comm.) some individuals in the 
"typical" class became more silvery and somewhat similar to the 
"Surprise Lake" fish, especially in large lakes. Lighter color 
variations were usually females scrutinized well after the spawn- 
ing season. Large lakes also had large males and females without 
prominent parr markings. Often ]arge males in large lakes were 
crimson frorr. the eye to the anal fin with this vivid color 
merging into the olive-green colored back. The newest State of 
Montana record (1981) was a male with this dominant red colora- 
tion. 

Age and Growth 

The most pronounced differences in growth between popula- 
tions of golden trout were among Age IV and older fish (Table 4). 
A mean difference of 4.8, 4.3 and 3.9 inches existed for the Ages 
IV, V and VII fish, respectively. The smallest golden trout 
resided in the small pond-like lakes in the Hidden Lake chain #5, 
6 and 7. Golden Trout Lake also contained snail fish. Island 
Lake appeared overpopulated with somewhat stunted fish. The 
population structure in Island Lake appeared similar to that of 
Cottonwood Lake #3 in California (Curtis 1934). 

Sylvan and Little Lightning lakes are not noted for large 
fish; however, populations were usually rejn esented with a 
complement of age groups. Growth inhibition in Sylvan Lake 
appeared food related, while Little Lightning Lake acted as a 
nursery for Lightning Lake with some older residents. Ninety- 
five percent of the fish were 3 years old and younger. Growth 
rates in Cottonwood Lake #4 in California resemble that in Sylvan 
Lake. 

- 17 - 



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19 - 



The largest golden trout resided in Lightning Lake, where 
immature fish were rarely captured. Hidden Lake #2 had indica- 
tions of a low density, good growth situation. Large, esthetic 
fish were common to Sawtooth and Fourmile Basin Creek Lake #4 
where food organisms were abundant. 

Numerous collecting efforts of golden trout in Lightning and 
Sylvan lakes suggested hardships were typical during winter 
months. Fish were of slighter body, weights registered lighter 
and condition factors averaged five digits lower in the early 
spring. Fish, however, filled out markedly by spawning season in 
early July. Larger females had fewer and smaller scales than 
smaller fish. Large males rarely had remqvable scales, just 
heavy pigmented skin. 

Golden trout in Sylvan and Lightning lakes enter their first 
winter at less than 1 month of age at a mean size of 1.2 inches. 
No scales were formed the first winter. Juveniles grew during 
the winter and were between 3.0 and 4.0 inches at ice breakup. 
By Age I, they ranged from 4.3 to 5.5 inches. 

In the other populations of golden trout in Montana, juve- 
niles observed in late August 1981 were larger than those living 
at the higher altitudes of Sylvan and Lightning lakes. However, 
at Age Group II, most of these fish averaged smaller than goldens 
in Lightning and Sylvan lakes. 

The oldest goldens examined in Montana were a population of 
now extinct, known-age, 14-year-old fish in West Boulder Lake in 
the Absaroka Mountain Range. They ranged from 14.3 to 18.2 
inches and were sexually ripe during the spring of their 14th 
year (Marcuson 1976). 

The State of Montana record for golden trout captured by an 
angler (in 1981) was 20.5 inches, 3.14 pounds. This fish was one 
of a few left in Lake at Falls in the Beartooth Mountains. The 
largest unofficial record was a fish estimated at 14 pounds. 
This large fish was trapped, stripped of eggs and released in 
Lightning Lake in 1975 by the author. 

Condition factors ranged from a low of 31.3 for a one-fish 
sample in Blue Danube to 52.1 for goldens from Lightning Lake. 
Condition factors (C = 100.000 W) for each lake averaged as 
follows: L^ 

Blue Danube 31.3 

Golden Trout 35.8 

Hidden #5, 6 & 7 35.8 

Fourmile Basin #4 38.9 

Sawtooth 41.6 

Heart 42.5 



The mean condition factor in Cottonv 
1934) . 

- 20 - 



Island 




43.3 


Sylvan 




43.9 


Crescent 




45.2 


Little Lightni 


ng 


50.4 


Hidden #2 




51.9 


Lightning 




52.1 


Cave 




54.5 


ood lakes was 


38. 


,8 (Curtis 



(«■ 



Reproduction 

Ice covered about half of Sylvan and Lightning lakes' sur- 
face when Age III and older fish started assembling near warmer 
outlet waters. In Sylvan Lake this occurred June 20, 1981; June 
27, 1973 and July 12, 1975. Spawning began 15- days later m 
Lightning Lake with less exposure and 187 additional feet of 
elevation than Sylvan Lake. 

Fish moved into outlet traps and shoal area near the outlet 
when water temperatures were near 40° F and began spawning in 
temperatures from 44 to 58° F. No eggs could be artifically 
taken at temperatures less than 44°^ F. The peak spawning 
activity in Sylvan Lake occurred July 6, 1981; July 9^^1973 and 
July 20, 1975 when temperatures ranged between 48 and 54 F. 

During 3 years of studying reproductive activities of golden 
trout, the 3 and 4-year-old fish were the most numerous age 
aroups in the spawning run (Table 5) in Sylvan Lake. Age II fish 
were predominately precocious males. A few 2-year-old females 
yielded 50 to 150 eggs. Ages III and IV females, usually 9-11 
inches in length, produced 350-700 eggs. One 19-inch female had 
1,750 eggs (Fig. 1). 

Pedds were generally small, often occupying small gravel 
deposits between rocks. A typical redd covered a 3x6-inch area, 
3-4 inches deep and from 8-12.5 inches under water. Redd sites 
in pea gravel along lake shoals were mostly high and dry before 
emergence. 

The spawning substrate at each successful artifical redd 
site as we] 1 as numerous selected natural redds was composed of 
2-inch and smaller rock. All successful hatching was in material 
with less than 1% fines and with less than 10% of the material 
smaller than .5 mm. 

Incubation period ranged from 46-50 days at a mean tempera- 
ture of 52° F in Sylvan Lake. In Lightning Lake, emergence took 
52 days at a mean temperature of 46° F. Fish were 1.2 inches 
when their yolk sacs were absorbed in September. Eggs incubated 
at 52° F at the Yellowstone River Trout Hatchery took 31 days to 
hatch. Hatching time was 28 days at 46° F at Daniel Hatchery, 
Wyoming (Hudelson, pers. comm.) and 24 days at 60° F at the Mount 
Whitney Hatchery in California (Toth, pers. comm.). 

Examination of other Montana waters with golden trout 
revealed a similar preference for outlets as primary spawning 
sites. Evidence of some inlet spawning was apparent at Hidden 
Lake #2 which had a lake upstream; some at Golden Trout Lake, 
also with lotic waters upstream, and Sawtooth Lake. No evidence 
of outlet utilization by goldens was apparent at Sawtooth Lake. 
Water temperatures < = 40° F during the physiological stage 
goldens were ready to spawn apparently determined whether a 
population became self-sufficient. Most alpine lakes, unless 
part of a chain or a wide spot in the stream, did not have one 

- 21 - 



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- 22 - 



SYLVAN 



m 
W 
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800 -I 



500 - 



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7.5 



9.0 



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10 



11 



Total length in inches 



LIGHTNING 



CO 

en 
W 

<w 
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1,600 -| 

1,200 - 

800 - 

400 - 

- 



T I I i 1 

6.5 8.5 10.5 12.5 14.5 Longer 



Total length in inches 



Fig. 1 Egg complements of golden trout in Sylvan and Lightning 
lakes. 



- 23 - 



consolidated inlet. Rather, they had numerous, ephemeral runoffs 
from surrounding snow and ice fields. 

Food Habits 

Lakes harboring golden trout all had their individuality 
regarding consumable organisms available to fish diets. Specific 
studies on six Absaroka-Beartooth lakes revealed golden trout 
were not totally opportunistic where menu choices were available. 
Golden trout populations in Montana were found in three types of 
lake habitats: 1) eutrophic, pond-like lakes; 2) small, somewhat 
shallow oligotrophic lakes and 3) large oligotrophic lakes (Table 
6) . 

Those fisheries in the eutrophic class were more opportunis- 
tic feeders, utilizing numerous items. The mainstay in these 
habitats appeared to be mostly dipterans and Gam marus. 

With the exception of Sylvan Lake, goldens occupying small 
oligotrophic lakes were usually part of a string or chain of 
lakes. Populations of fish were often dependent on reproduction 
upstream. The occupants of small, oligotrophic lakes are small 
to medium sized fish with an occasional larger 1 1/2 pounder. 
These lakes supported less invertebrate diversity than eutrophic 
lakes. Food organisms were taken from the benthic to surface 
zone, depending on the season. Dipteran pupa taken in the water 
column represented the overwhelming food consumed. 

Large oligotrophic lakes usually supported larger golden 
trout. Diversity of invertebrates was no greater than that found 
in small o]igotrophic ]akes, but the quantity of organisms was 
higher. Typical zooplankton density was 450-900 per cubic meter 
of water in large lakes compared to 50-200/m-^ in small oligotrop- 
hic lakes. Zooplankton of the large varieties (+2 mm) were 
usually absent in smaller, shallower lakes. Of those lakes 
listed in Table 6, only Blue Danube failed to produce large fish 
in 1981. Benthic organisms were preferred nourishment in large 
oligotrophic lakes. 

Table 6. Class of lake habitats with golden trout in Montana 



Small Eutrophic 



Small Oligotrophic- 



Large Oligotrophic 



Hidden #5, 6, 7 
Golden Trout 



Little Lightning 

Sylvan 

Hidden #2 

Island 

Crescent 

Heart 



Lightning 
Sav/tooth 

Fourmile Basin #4 
Blue Danube 
Cave 



-'-Sometimes referred to as Mesotrophic. 

- 24 - 



An accumulated sample of 419 stomachs were collected season- 

^ ally from six Absaroka-Beartooth lakes between 1972 and 1981 and 

■^ another 401 stomach samples in Sylvan and Lightning lakes. 

Differences were more evident among diets of fish in small lakes 

than those larger fish typical of large lakes (Table 7). 

Larger fish in large lakes fed heavily on benthic organisms, 
larva forms of Diptera, Plecoptera, Tricoptera and Ephemoptera. 
Water column foods were next most popular; Diptera pupa and, when 
available, Gammarus dominated the choice. Zooplankton were found 
incidental to other foods in only six fish in larger lakes. 
During, before and after spawning, some surface feeding was 
observed. The total weight and numbers of terrestrial organisms 
in golden trout diets was usually small, even though the fre- 
quency of terrestrial-originated foods was common, especially 
during the spring. 

Most of the food consumed in small oligotrophic lakes origi- 
nated in the water column followed by the benthic and lastly from 
the terrestrial environment. Dipteran pupa again were the most 
heavily utilized feed. During winter, larval Dipterans from the 
benthic zone dominated the menu. Cladoceran zooplankters were 
utilized under ice conditions by some of Sylvan lakes' younger 
golden trout, a food source rarely utilized in the lakes studied. 
The dominant terrestrial food organisms in both small and large 
oligotrophic lakes were flying ants. 

>% Of 820 stomachs analyzed, there was never an incidence of 

'"^ fish or fish eggs. This held true throughout the spawning and 
emergence periods. Golden trout occupying Lightning Lake were 
rarely seen after spawning season. This disappearing act was in 
harmony with resumption of benthic feeding activity, often in the 
deepest water near the outlet. 

Competition 

The demise of Montana's 50 plus populations of golden trout 
were largely due to introductions of other spring spawning 
species of fish. Hybridization was commonplace; species were 
replaced. Seventeen lakes in Montana are still known for these 
colorful crosses (Table 8). 

Golden trout are eventually eliminated when cohabiting a 
lake with brook trout. Golden trout in Fourmile Basin Lake #3 
never sustained in the presence of brook trout. One golden trout 
and 42 brook trout were gillnetted in 1962 (Whitney and Domrose 
1964); 2 goldens, 40 brook trout were netted in 1973 (Marcoux 
1973)' and no goldens were found and 32 brook trout netted in 
1981. Density of trout in Fourmile #3 was dependent on an 
occasional escape from Fourmile #4 upstream, escaping predation 
and finding food in an already crowded environment of brook 
trout. 



- 25 - 



Table 7. 


Summary of 
Absaroka-Be 


diets of golden trout in six lakes in the 
artooth Mountains, Montana 




No. of 
Stomachs 


Freauencv of Occurrence-^ 






Terrestrial 


Water Column 


Benthic 


Misc. 


+8 inches 
-8 inches 


362 
60 


182 
6 




233 
32 


195 
31 


241 
37 


Spring 
Summer 
Fall 
Winter 


62 

305 

48 

4 


29 

120 

38 






42 

196 

25 

3 


38 

151 

34 

3 


31 

206 

38 

3 


Large lakes 
Small lakes 


63 
356 


37 
151 




39 

227 


48 
178 


37 
244 




No. of 
Stomachs 


Number 


raan isms Cons umeji 






Terrestrial 


Water Column 


Benthic 


Misc. 


+8 inches 
-8 inches 


347 
60 


4,049 
384 




81,125 
10,585 


17,890 
3,499 


- 


Spring 
Summer 
Fall 

Winter 


47 

305 

48 

4 


222 

3,069 

1,176 






1,021 

89,232 

793 

68 


1,049 

14,627 

6,583 

29 


- 


Large lakes 
Small lakes 


63 
341 


355 
4,078 




811 
90,899 


6,583 
14,499 


- 



- 26 - 



Table 7. Summary of diets of golden trout in six lakes in the 
Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains, Montana (cont.) 







No. of 

Stomachs 


Biomass 


(G 


rams 


i) of Organisms Cons 


lumed 




Terrestria 


il 


Wat 


er Column 


Benthic 


Misc. 




+8 inches 
-8 inches 


362 
60 


38.50 
.21 






176.58 
7.33 


92.18 
6.21 


65.59 
7.68 


'i* 


Spring 
Summer 
Fall 
Winter 


62 
305 

48 
4 


3.81 
18.28 
16.09 








11.66 

137.10 

8.15 

.05 


14.79 

42.94 

36.58 

.06 


10.23 

40.93 

12.12 

.05 




Large lakes 
Small lakes 


63 
356 


8.53 
30.25 






38.45 
14.547 


41.87 
56.49 


7.46 
65.82 



^Number of stomachs containing organisms in the four catego- 



- 27 - 



Table 8. Lakes in Montana with golden trout hybrids 



Lake 



Hybrid 



Mountain Range 



Lake of the Isle 

Twin Outlets 

Big Park 

Lake at Falls 

Duggan 

Rainbow 

Rimrock 

Barrier 

Bill 

Mini 

Cimmerian 

Lake Surrender 

Raven 

Dreary 

Lake Pinchot 

Blue Paradise 

Cataract 



Gt X Ct X Rb 

Gt X Ct 

Gt X Ct 

Gt X Ct 

Gt X Ct 

Gt X Rb 

Gt X Rb 

Gt X Rb 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb X Ct 

Gt X Rb 

Gt X Rb 

Gt X Rb 



Anaconda-Pint la r 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Beartooth 

Madison 

Madison 



- 28 



Fish Health (Jim Peterson, pers. conun.) 

No unusual incidences of physical abnormalities were 
observed among golden trout in Montana. All were free of visible 
signs of disease symptoms. No viral pathogens were isolated; 
however, T.S.A. cultures revealed a general prevalence (six of 
nine populations of Yersinia cucKeri, serotype 2. Samples from 
Sylvan Lake were found to contain Y^ cucketif both serotypes 1 
and 2. No type 1 was isolated from the other populations 
sampled, and no Y^ lilcJifiil of either serotype was found in 
samples from Fourmile Basin #4, Blue Danube or Lower Lightning 
Lake (Table 9). Y^ ruckeri is the bacterial pathogen that causes 
Enteric Redmouth (ERM) , a disease which often results in heavy 
mortality, especially when introduced into a crowded situation 
such as a fish hatchery. It is important to remember that ERM 
was not observed in these fish, but the causative organism 
(Y. ruckeri) was, and so the potential for disease exists. 
Y^ ruckeri serotype 2 is much less pathogenic to trout than 
serotype 1 and "...probably pose no more threat than many genera 
of ubiquitous bacteria in the aquatic environment..." (Janeke, 
pers . comm. ) . 

The first samples of 18 goldens from Sylvan Lake were live- 
captured in gill nets, held from 5 to 48 hours in crowded live- 
cars and artificially spawned. Fifteen of 18 samples were found 
to contain Y^ ruckeri (serotypes 1 from 3 fish, serotype 2 from 
11 fish, and serotypes 1 and 2 from 1 fish). A second sample 63 
days later found Y^ ruckeri in 10 of 30 fish sampled (nine sero- 
type 2, one serotype 1). These goldens were stressed by gillnet- 
ting, but not to the degree of the first sample. 

The health samples collected from spawning goldens at the 
time eggs were collected in 1981 were routine. No evidence of a 
pathogen was apparent and there was no reason to suspect that Y_^ 
rucker i was present. Another precaution taken at that time was 
to water-harden all eggs collected in a 3 mg/L solution of ery- 
thromycin (Abbot Labs). Erythromycin is commonly used in Montana 
when collecting eggs from wild sources to help eliminate the 
possible spread of bacterial fish pathogens. Y^ ruckeri is 
transmitted fish to fish via the water and there is no conclusive 
proof of egg transmissions (Klontz et al. 1976). However, 
because this precaution was taken, we are hopeful that any possi- 
bility of transmission of this pathogen from Sylvan Lake was 
interrupted. Eggs collected in 1980 for Cave Lake were also 
water hardened in erythromycin and the fish were found negative 
for Y^ ruckeri . 

The eggs collected at Sylvan Lake in 1981 were hatched and 
reared at the Washoe Park Trout Hatchery at Anaconda. These 
goldens suffered from parasitic infections of Hexamitar Cost3 . a 
and C yrodactvlus incurred from the hatchery water supply. Some 
mortality was experienced, but treatment for the parasites con- 
trolled the situation. These fish were sampled for Y^. i :ucke i :i 
when they were 2,100/pound and again when 150/pound. No Y_.. 
ruckeri was found. 

- 29 - 



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- 30 - 



Otlier states have tried rearing golden trout under hatchery 
conditions. Atteirpts to hold brood stocks at Mount Whitney Fish 
Hatchery in California were abandoned, due to a high incidence of 
furnunculosis and columnaris (Toth, pers. comm.). A brood stock 
at VJyoming's Story Fish Hatchery had excessive mortality, due to 
intestinal flukes (Mitchum and Moore 1969). Fish reared in slow- 
growth, cold-water hatcheries have been less susceptible to harm- 
ful infections. 

Genetics (Phelps 1982) 

The purpose of the genetic investigation was to determine 
the amount and type of genetic variation that occurs in Montana 
golden trout, identify any evidence of introgression from other 
Salmo species, and determine if the observed morphological 
differences had a genetic basis. Findings concluded that golden 
trout in Montana had less genetic variation than other Salmo 
species and golden trout populations from California. No 
evidence of introgression from other Salmo was detected in any of 
the nine golden trout populations. There was a statistically 
significant gene frequency difference between golden trout popu- 
lations started from sources in Montana and the Surprise Lake, 
Wyoming source at the only variable locus in these fish. 

Tlie amount of genetic variation found in these golden trout 
populations in Montana held a low average heterozygosity of 
0.005. The variation was about one-third of that found in Cali- 
fornia's golden trout populations. Golden trout stocks from 
Cottonwood lakes has less genetic variation than the original 
golden trout stocks in California (Kornblatt 1973; Smith 1981). 
Very few adults were probably used to start the original popula- 
tion in the Cottonwood Lake system.. However, the amount of 
genetic variation varied substantially between the different 
Cottonwood lakes, and gene frequencies of variable loci may have 
greatly changed since the golden trout were brought to Montana. 
Genetic variation apparently has been lost since golden trout 
were brought to Montana. Genetic variation present at Idh-3,4 in 
all the Cottonwood Lake samples did not occur in any of the 
golden trout samples from Montana. 

There was no indication of hybridization with other Salmo 
species. No alleles characteristic of Yellowstone cutthroat 
trout (Salmo clarki bouveri) or westslope cutthroat trout SallTiQ 
clarki lewisi) were observed in the samples. There were no 
electrophoretically detectable alleles present in golden trout 
that distinguished them from rainbow trout. This also had been 
found in other studies (Allendorf and Utter 1979; Gall et al. 
1976; Gold 1981; Kornblatt 1973; Smith 1981). Even though there 
were no diagnostic loci betv;een golden and rainbow trout, the 
type and amount of genetic variation present was an indication of 
v/hether there had been any past rainbow trout introgression. 

Genetic variation found in golden trout in Montana was one- 
tenth of that commonly found in rciinbow trout populations. Many 



- 31 - 



of the commonly variable isozyme loci found in rainbow trout 
strains, i.e., Idh-3,4; Mdh-3,4; Pam-2, were not present in these 
Montana golden trout populations. It is unlikely that this low 
amount of genetic variation would be present if there had been 
introgression from rainbow trout. 

Genetic variation occurred at only a single locus, Sod-1 
(Table 10). The variation consisted of a fast migrating allele, 
Sod-l(152). This variation is common in both rainbow trout 
(Allendorf and Utter 1979) and golden trout (Gall et al. 1976). 
Aat-3,4 appeared to be variable, but inadequate resolution and 
lack of inheritance data prevented a confirmation of the genetic 
basis. There were statistically significant differences at Sod-1 
between the golden trout populations started from the Surprise 
Lake, Wyoming source and those sources from Montana: P <.01, = 
10.9, Idf. The golden trout populations started from the Sur- 
prise Lake stock had a low occurrence of the variant allele. 

DISCUSSION 

Present Status 

Of the 14 lake systems in Montana with golden trout in 1981, 
only Lightning, Sylvan, Sawtooth, Island, Hidden #5, 6 and 7 and 
Golden Trout lakes appear relatively secure. Among these six 
populations, Lightning, Sylvan and Island had the greatest safe- 
guards, due to their locations within a wilderness area. The 
Hidden lakes and Golden Trout Lake were becoming increasingly 
close to large timber sales. Both lake systems are influenced by 
easy, close access and show deteriorating shorelines and water 
quality. Sawtooth Lake also bordered considerable commercial- 
sized timber. No logging was apparent in Sawtooth basin or along 
Clarks Creek, its immediate drainage. Clear-cuts and roading 
v/ere, however, common in the Pioneer Mountains. 

The status of Cave, Shrimp and Duck lakes had not been 
adequately confirmed, nor had the populations been around long 
enough to test sustainability. Blue Danube had historic longev- 
ity and produced good yield to previous experimental netting. 
Its present low population status may rally; however, its future 
looks bleak. 

Heart and Crescent lakes in the Mission Mountains will 
probably continue to produce erratic population densities, due in 
part to their reliance on recruitment from Island Lake upstream. 
Sylvan Lake endures; its only threat would be an unauthorized 
transplant of brook trout from nearby Crow Lake or an aerial 
stocking error. 

Ranking of Lakes 

A ranking of golden trout habitats (Table 11) lists Light- 
ning lake best in Montana. Its fisheries status excels others 
because of its size, outlet condition, flow and nursery area 200 



- 32 - 



Table 10. Genetic variation at Sod-1 in Montana golden trout 
populat ions-*- 





No. 


Genotype 
of Occurrences 




Frequency 
of the 


Lake 


100/100 


100/152 


152/152 


100 Allele 


Lightning 


21 


7 




2 


0.82 


Sylvan 


10 


9 







0.76 


Golden Trout 


17 


1 




2 


0.88 


Blue Danube 





1 







0.50* 


Hidden #5 


7 










1.00 


Total 


55 


18 




4 


0.83 


Sawtooth 


29 


1 







0.98 


Island 


28 


2 







0.97 


Fourmile Basin #4 2 










1.00^ 


Hidden #2 


11 










1.00 


Total 


70 


3 







0.98 



^From Phelps, 1982. 

*Gene frequency estimates from a small number of samples may 
not be accurate. 



- 33 - 



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- 34 - 



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- 35 - 



yards downstream in Little Lightning Lake. Other high marks 
result from its difficult access. Even so, the lake's notoriety 
is spreading, accompanied by abuses that accompany fame. 

Sylvan Lake is easily ranked second, followed by Sawtooth 
and Island lakes. Fourmile Basin Lake #4 has the best oppor- 
tunity for habitat improvement and could be a viable fishery. 

Angling 

Golden trout are not known for catchability; however, at 
times they can be very vulnerable. Golden trout are much more 
visible and easily enticed to the bait in the shallower lake 
systems. Special regulations were imposed on the Cottonwood 
lakes, California in 1938, and fishing was closed in 1957 at 
Surprise Lake, Wyoming to maintain adequate densities. The only 
special regulations on a golden trout fishery in Montana were an 
August opening date for Lightning Lake to protect spawners in the 
outlet. The real need for this protective measure preceded 
wilderness classification when it was a common practice to fly 
nearby miners into Lightning Lake by helicopter. 

Angler harvest of golden trout is best at and immediately 
following ice-out. Catchability becomes difficult in larger 
waters as fish begin feeding on larger benthic forms. Lakes such 
as Sylvan, Sawtooth, Hidden and Golden Trout produce catches 
during summer months, but to a lesser degree than would occur if 
the lakes were stocked with cutthroat, rainbow or brook trout. 
An outfitter reported an estimate of 150 fishermen per year use 
Sawtooth; most catch only a few fish if any (Bob NcNiel, pers., 
comm. ) . 

Several waters with golden trout hybrids were excellent 
fisheries, producing a more catchable, highly colored fish. In 
some areas, e.g., Flood Creek drainage in the Beartooths, these 
hybrid golden x cutthroat x rainbow usually exceed sizes typical 
of pure strain golden trout. Requests for information on golden 
trout waters from fishermen are common to this investigator. 
Many back-country enthusiasts seek out golden trout for a rare 
angling experience. 

Management Recommendations 

The discovery that golden trout occupy so few waters in 
Montana and even fewer good, stable environments, makes it easy 
to recommend dispersement to additional waters. Because of the 
total absence of populations in streams, I recommend at least a 
couple of habitats be searched out for this purpose. I do not 
contend any great emphasis should be geared to goldens as a 
management species. Managers have an opportunity to protect, 
enhance and secure the golden's future in Montana. California 
has the obligation to secure the fishes' welfare. We in Montana 
can assist by taking progeny of our best original stocks and 
expanding their range. 



- 36 - 



4,000 


fish 


1,000 




4,000 




1,000 


each 


1,500 




1,500 





Waters stocked in 1980 through 1983 require evaluation over 
the next few years to determine the success of those plants and 
the degree of self-sufficiency (Table C). Highest priority was 
given to systems that exhibit physical and biological character- 
istics comparable to the best existing golden trout habitats. 
The Desolation-Big Butte to Jorden Lake chain involves a six 
lake-stream system and has characteristics favorable to develop- 
ment of the best golden trout habitat in the State of Montana. 
The second best opportunity for a stream-lake ecosystem is the 
West Fishtail Creek drainage of the Beartooths. 

All future proposals should consider impacts of golden trout 
introductions to downstream environments; generally speaking 
these should be minimal. I would also suggest a search of poten- 
tial habitats in western Montana for improved geographic distri- 
bution. In 1984, the following golden trout plants are recom- 
mended: 

Blue Danube Lake 

Hidden Lake #1 

Hidden Lake #2 

Hidden lakes #3, 4 and 8 

Picasso Lake 

Incisor Lake 

Since it was apparent that many of the existing golden trout 
habitats were degraded physically, esthetically and biologically, 
some action is recommended. All existing golden trout habitats 
have been fisheries for years, and their historic value should be 
retained if at all possible. 

I recommend upgrading golden trout status in the Fourmile 
Basin lakes #3 and 4. Lake #5 appeared to have little potential 
for a sustaining population. Fourmile Basin #4 has been a golden 
trout fishery since 1960; it was restocked in 1977. Its present 
low density can be attributed to the deteriorated nature of the 
exit of the outlet from the lake. A simple debris removal may 
mend the problem. It is assumed that adult spawners can return 
to the lake during suitable flows in the spring. Juveniles 
trapped in 150 feet of outlet fail to augment the lake's popula- 
tion. 

I recommend extermination of brook trout in Fourmile Basin 
Lake #3 and the small, wide waters downstream. Treatment could 
be effective during March when access by snowmobiles could trans- 
port chemicals. Smaller amounts of chemicals are required during 
low oxygen levels. Recruitment from Fourmile #4 would appropri- 
ately restock Fourmile #3 slowly, allowing both food resources 
and golden trout establishment. Tr the absence of competition 
from brook trout, self-sufficiency should occur. 

Both shorelines shov/ed considerable abuse. I recommend a 
general cleanup, restrictions to camping near the shoreline and a 
restriction of vehicles to a distance uninf luencial to Fourmile 



- 37 - 



Basin Lake #3. An evaluation of Duck and Shrimp lakes should be 
undertaken. Three and 4-year-old parent stock introduced in 1977 
should have had offspring of catchable size by 1982; the self- 
sustaining aspect looks bleak, however. 

Angler dissatisfaction with the low-density fishery in Blue 
Danube Lake is justified. Ironically, Blue Danube supported a 
thriving population for years. No sign of activity leading to 
population failure was evident. Inadequate freshet flows neces- 
sary for cleansing substrate gravels in the outlet may be part of 
the problem. The existing stock has considerable historic 
longevity. I recommend a more detailed look at the physical 
habitat, food resources and population status. 

Golden Trout Lake needs measures to improve the deteri- 
orating shoreline. Camping areas have denuded large areas of 
vegetation and appear in part responsible for eutrophic water 
conditions. Camping and horse use should be discontinued near 
the outlet stream. The value of this historic fishery should be 
rated as high or higher as the associated values of the encroach- 
ing logging. 

The same is true for Hidden Lake; reading and logging may 
cause the demise of the historic golden trout population. Since 
the upper lakes have been restocked with fish from Surprise Lake 
and have no obvious influences on Hidden lakes $5, 6 and 7, I 
recommend restocking lakes #1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 with either Surprise 
or Sylvan stock. 

If goldens in Cave Lake fail to become self-sufficient, I 
recommend letting the lake return to a barren status. The 
remaining lakes in the state appear secure and/or have protective 
status of wilderness. I recommend these lakes be protected from 
introduction of other species and managers be aware of their 
importance and uniqueness in the State of Montana. 



- 38 - 



LITERATURE CITED 

Allendorf, F. W. and F. M. Utter. 1979. Population genetics. 
Pages 407-454, In: Fish Physiology, Vol. 8, W. S. Hoar, D. 
J. Randall and J. R. Brett (ed.), Acad. Press, New York. 

Brown, C. J. D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Big Sky Books, Boze- 
man. Mont. , p. 52. 

Curtis, B. 1934. The golden trout of Cottonwood lakes ( Salmo 
aqua-bonita Jordan). Trans. Am. Fish. Soc, Vol. 64, pp. 
259-265. 

Ellis, S. L. N. and H. C. Bryant. 1920. Distribution of golden 
trout in California. Calif. Fish and Game, 6(4), pp. 141- 
149. 

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- 40 - 



Waters referred to: 



Name 



S tatg Wate r Code 



Arrowhead Lake 


5-22-7174 


Asteroid Lake 


5-22-7187 


Barrier Lake 


5-22-7220 


Big Butte Lake 


5-22-7249 


Big Park Lake 


5-22-7252 


Bill Lake 


5-22-7266 


Blue Danube Lake 


3-13-6960 


Blue Paradise 


3-13-7020 


Cairn Lake 


5-22-7392 


Cataract Lake 


3-13-7180 


Cave Lake 


5-22-7449 


Cimmerian Lake 


5-22-7456 


Cottonwood Lake #3 


California 


Cottonwood Lake #4 


California 


Crescent Lake 


1-07-5880 


Dewey Lake 


5-22-7686 


Desolation lakes 


5-22-7677 


Dreary Lake 


5-22-7696 


Dryad Lake 


5-22-7698 


Duck Lake 


2-06-7680 


Duckhead Lake 


1-05-8736 


Duggan Lake 


5-22-7697 


Emerald Lake 


3-09-7980 


Falls Creek Lake 


5-22-8225 


Fourmile Basin Lake #3 


2-06-7866 


Fourmile Basin Lake #4 


2-06-7867 


Fourmile Basin Lake #5 


2-06-7868 



Flood Creek lakes (6) 



Golden Lake 
Golden Trout Lake 
Heart Lake 
Herrig Lake 
Hidden Lake #1 
Hidden Lake #2 
Hidden Lake #3 
Hidden Lake #4 
Hidden Lake #5 
Hidden Lake #6 
Hidden Lake #7 
Hidden Lake #8 
Imagine Lake 
Island Lake 
Jasper Lake 
Jim lakes 
Jock Lake 



A series of 18 lakes including 
Bill, Mini, Asteroid, Pinchot, 
Dreary, Cimmerian, Surrender, 
Raven and Dryad - all listed 
here individually 



5-22- 
3-09- 
1-07- 
1-07- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
3-09- 
1-05- 
1-07- 
5-22- 
1-07- 
4-20- 



■7987 
■8094 
•6660 
•6700 
8398 
8399 
8400 
8401 
8402 
8403 
8404 
8405 
9040 
6880 
8180 
6960 
8150 



- 41 - 



Waters referred to: (cont.) 



N ame 



State Water Code 



Kaufman (Falls Creek Lake) 5-22-8225 

Lake at Falls 5-22-8330 

Lake of the Isle 2-06-8256 

Lake of the Winds 5-22-8344 

Lake Pinchot 5-22-8890 

Lake Surrender 5-22-8350 

Lava Lake 3-09-8588 

Lightning Lake 5-22-8372 
Little Lake Creek lakes (2) 3-02-8425 

Little Lake 2-06-8417 

Little Lightning Lake 5-22-8372 

Little Scat Lake 5-22-9097 

Louise Lake (Mary Lou) 3-10-9000 

Lower Dutchman Lake 3-13-7890 

Lower Sky Lake 1-11-9088 

Medicine Lake 5-22-8638 

McKnight Lake 5-22-8612 

Mini Lake 5-22-8672 

Rainbow Lake 5-22-8960 

Raven Lake 5-22-8972 

Renshaw Lake 4-20-8000 

Rhoda Lake 4-16-7920 

Rimrock Lake 5-22-9002 

Rock Tree Lake 5-22-9033 

Sawtooth Lake 3-01-9460 

Sears Lake 2-03-8925 

Shrimp Lake 2-06-9180 

Smith Lake Rearing Pond 1-07-8740 

Snowbank Lake (Fossil) 5-22-9305 

Sylvan Lake 5-22-9394 

Twin Outlets Lake 5-22-9528 

Upper Dutchman Lake 3-13-8860 

Upper McKnight Lake 5-22-8612 

Upper Sky Lake 1-11-9908 

West Boulder lakes 5-22-9730 

West Fishtail Creek lakes 5-22-9735 



- 42 -